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Public health expert gives insight on general risk of relaxing COVID-19 restrictions

Jason Rodriguez, Camila Gutierrez
Posted at 6:09 AM, May 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-04 07:30:31-04

TAMPA, Fla. — While medical experts say there’s been a lot of progress in fighting the COVID-19 virus and the death rate has gone down, they’re still urging people to be cautious.

“Public health measures of monitoring and surveillance and testing and measuring and looking for possible little sparks that could be become forest fires, remain very important,” said Dr. Jay Wolfson, USF Health Professor of Public Health, Medicine, and Pharmacy.

Doctors say the greatest risk we face right now is the large population of people who still are not vaccinated.

“We could face another variance and it doesn’t take much for us to look across the Atlantic Ocean to India and see what’s happening there and what’s happening in Brazil, but we can’t afford to shut our economy down again. There’s a balance between economic health and public health and the more we learn about this disease, the more we can take prudent steps,” said Wolfson.

Medical officials want to remind the community that the vaccine does not stop you from getting sick. That’s why public health experts and the CDC still suggest safety measures like wearing a mask, washing your hands, and avoiding crowds.

“Even if you get the vaccine you may still get exposed to somebody, you may still get a mild case but you’ll be protected. You may get it yourself and give it to others,” said Wolfson.

While experts say we’re still not at a point where we can completely disregard any COVID-19 safety measures, they say there is a way we can start to relax personal restrictions that greatly lowers risk of spread and variants.

“If they follow some basic rules it’s pretty safe, most of those rules are the CDC rules. So if you create a bubble with the vaccine, for yourself and your family, you can bring other people into that bubble if they’re vaccinated, it’s relatively safe… I don’t think this is a free ticket to go out and do whatever you want. It’s an advisement that’s saying if you are vaccinated, you can do things that you didn’t do before with other people who have been vaccinated. The more vaccinated people we get, the greater that bubble is going to be,” said Wolfson.